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Millennials: more spiritual than religious?

A Page 1 story from USA Today this week reports:

Most young adults today don’t pray, don’t worship and don’t read the Bible, a major survey by a Christian research firm shows.

If the trends continue, “the Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships,” says Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources. In the group’s survey of 1,200 18- to 29-year-olds, 72% say they’re “really more spiritual than religious.”

The survey was commissioned by a Southern Baptist group but raises the question: Are we seeing similar trends in Churches of Christ?
Please check our comment policy and then share your insights. Feel free to include the name and location of your home congregation. We may use your comment in a future story.

  • Feedback
    I second all of Ryan’s points. Well put.
    John Furness
    April, 28 2010

    I suspect the Millennial generation is telling us that the Institutional Church appears to be more interested in advancing the needs of “us” than preaching the Gospel of Jesus to “others”. I doubt that the Church of Christ Millennial generation differ from Baptist in this view.
    Joe Bain
    April, 28 2010

    I have done a lot of personal research on this subject and have found that all churches including the church of Christ are missing the boat in delivering the good news that our Lord and His apostles delivered. Christ was against the religious leaders of the day, because their religion was their religion, not GOD’s. Our charge is to actively Love GOD by showing it in our lives and actively treating others as well as we do ourselves. Actions speak louder than words.
    The church of Christ has two main problems that chase people away and fail to lead others to Christ, especially young people and men. The first is that Jesus Christ and His disciples would not fair well in today’s church environment where you have to be verbally strong, studious, and sensitive. This is a trait of women, preachers, and old people, which is what you get the most of in our churches. We need to return to a church environment that lets men and young people know they can succeed. Jesus was a man’s man and so were His apostles. Jesus constantly challenged his followers and led them into many battles that led all of them to danger and death. When you sign on with Christ you sign up for an adventure that will lead to many battles, some we win and most we don’t. We will win the war though. Books from David Murrow,Paul Coughlin, and John Eldredge are good tools for research to use with GOD’s word for discovering men and young people’s hearts. The bible is full of strong brave men who were not afraid to wrestle with GOD, if you wrestle with GOD you aren’t walking away, you are engaged. If you don’t let go of GOD, He will not let you go.
    The other problem in the church of Christ is lack of true accountability. Nobody knows anybody well enough to confess the secrets that reside in the darkness of the mind from just attending church and church fellowships. From the very first they met in homes, what today is called small group. Christ had a group of 12 which he subdivided into groups of 3. Paul always traveled with small group. Meeting in homes in very small groups for 2 to 3 hours every week at least once a week is what builds bands of brothers and teams of women to strengthen each other and help each other through the many long tough battles of life. In a small group you learn through doing not through bible studies and sermons. Sermons people forget within 48 hours and bible studies, without action, result in the same. All people learn better through participation.
    Let’s get back to what Christ intended His church to do. Christ wants our action not our feelings, our action not our religion. True religion is helping the needy.
    Dal White
    April, 28 2010

    I firmly believe that the trends noted in Thom Rainer’s survey among Southern Baptists is mirrored among churches of Christ. While this might first seem to reflect primarily on Millennials, I believe that the root lies in the weak commitment to spiritual disciplines of the previous generation.
    As the father of five Millennials I have arrived at the following suggestion. Rather than what wonder, “Whats wrong with the Millennials?” we should ask, “What have we done?”
    Jeff Custer
    April, 28 2010

    I think the wording of this survey is very important.
    This generation has been raised to believe that “Religion Kills, Jesus Saves”
    They equate the word “religion” with “legalism.” They’ve had grace & mercy hammered into them, with little accountability. They’ve been taught religion is a bad thing, and this survey demonstrates that.
    In an age of certainty, churches were founded on confident belief and a confident identity. Today with less accountability & confidence, comes a weaker identity as a fellowship and this bleeds over into spirituality on a personal level. If you claim allegiance to something concrete, it will surely fail or hurt you at some point in your life. Never commit, and you’ll never be let down.
    Ryan Sumner
    April, 28 2010

    Thanks all for your insight.
    Any millennials reading this who’d like to offer your perspective?
    Bobby Ross Jr.
    April, 29 2010

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